I invited Mark Magnacca to Mixergy for a second time so he could go into more depth about the ideas behind his book “So What?” and show us they’d apply to web sites.
To help illustrate his message, he put together a series of slides and gave feedback on Mixergy viewer’s web sites. (You can download the deck below.)
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Andrew: All right. Here’s the program.
Hey, everyone. It’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, Home of the Ambitious Upstart. And you guys challenged me. Mark, my audience keeps challenging me. You here, Mark Magnacca, author of So What?, was on here on Mixergy last year, talking about how you can position yourself and your business by answering that big question that’s on everyone’s minds, even if they don’t articulate it. So What? Now, Mark was here. He talked about the book. He talked about the ideas. He was dynamic. He was one of my best guests. People actually went out and bought your book, Mark. Bought your book, Mark Magnacca. And they held it up, took pictures, and they put it up on Twitter to say that they bought it. They emailed me about it. They told me how they learned to answer the question, “So what do you do?”, by using the format that you gave us. What a great formula. I use it. I see other people use it. I’ve seen them use it to talk to investors, to answer this “What does your business do?”, and get their investors’ attention. And so, you’ve been one of the most popular guests here on Mixergy, and still they challenge me to go more. And I know you, Mark, also challenge me to do more. You said, “Let’s see if we can make these techniques, these ideas that we taught, more useful to the audience, more directly applicable.” And that’s what they’ve challenged me to do, to say, “Not just hear big ideas, but hear how these big ideas, Andrew, that you talk about, relate to these specific websites.” And so here’s what we’re going to do today, more than an interview. Mark actually sent over a bunch of PowerPoints. And people who are watching this live can see them over the interview. And people who are watching in recorded, I should have them somewhere here up on the screen for you. And you can, of course, download these slides. What these slides have is the ideas from the book, the ideas that Mark has taught. And they also have a few websites of people from our audience who said, “Can you teac
h us how these ideas apply to these specific businesses?” And that’s what we’re going to do here, teach, and then show how it works specifically. So Mark, how did I do there with that intro?
Mark Magnacca: That’s a good sale, Andrew. And I will tell you that you did challenge me to become more open. On a lot of the examples I gave were not specifically from the world of high tech, or anything related to the web technology or the internet. And so, part of the challenge today was the make the So What? factor more relevant, as relates to all that we’re going to be talking about, specifically to the many people who are listening right now, and maybe listen later, who are in anything related to service or on the internet, whether it’s web development, graphic design, coding. We’ll talk about how to make your offering more compelling.
Andrew: OK, so we lost the connection, and Mark, the first question that I was asking you was, “What is the SoWhat? test?”
Mark Magnacca: Well, Andrew, the answer’s going to get better each time we go through this.
Mark Magnacca: [breaking up] So for those listeners who are on, I’m going to give you a little something more every time I answer it. And here’s what I’m going to give you now. I want you to write down two things. These are two questions that are fundamental to everything I do. And they’re fundamental to virtually every customer or client you may have. The first question this: “So what does this mean?” And the second question is: “So what should I do?” So, first question, “So what does this mean?”. Second question, “So what should do?” So if you view that as a mental [??] optical illusion. A big part of the job is to help you answer those questions. Maybe this [??] I’m going to talk in right now, is one of those techniques that you can use to do that. So, in a larger world today, people are looking for meaning. They’re looking to understand “what does this mean?” And then, they’re looking for what I call, “direction”. They’re looking for someone like you to direct them with a solution that can solve the problem they have. So, how do you do that? Well, one way you do that…
Mark Magnacca: Well, one way you do it is with this So What matrix. And so by asking yourself the following three questions: for what, so what and now what? Let me give you a little more color. For what reason? So for what reason are we doing this interview, as an example. That was the first thing we went through in preparation for going on live. And, of course, the answer was to communicate how this idea could help your viewers. So then the next question so what? Why would they care? Well, if it was about something unrelated to they might not care. But what we’ve done is connect And then finally the now what call to action. So at the end of this presentation you’re going to get a link to allow you to download for free a document that’s going to help you address one of the ideas we’re going to talk about called The So What Biography.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So we’re going to be asking ourselves so what, for what, now what? And we’ll be applying these questions later on to a few websites.
Mark Magnacca: That’s exactly right.
Mark Magnacca: Let’s move on to the next slide.
Andrew: The next slide here is for what. For what reason are you communicating?
Mark Magnacca: So we’ve…I’m going to have you click through; we’ve gone through that and I want you to think about, all of those of you who are viewers right now, for what reason are you communicating? Think about this in the context of your business or of your website. What is the reason that you have this website? What is it that you want the website to do? Now the easy thing to say is, “Well, I want to sell stuff.” Okay. That’s what you want. But the question is for what reason are you communicating? What is the real goal? And some of the simplest questions turn out to be the most profound because they get you to think at a level that you might not have been thinking at initially. Let’s go to the next slide.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So what? What is most important about your message or prospect? Let’s talk about Mixergy since we talked about this interview. So what? So I know what I’m doing these interviews for. I’m doing them because I want to have an impact on entrepreneurs. I’m doing them because I want to see entrepreneurs build their online businesses. So what?
Mark Magnacca: Well, you know Andrew this is a great example of what this question is really all about because as we’ve talked about the interesting part that you’re discovering, and I want everyone to know that this is a process. In my experience with my clients in a number of different diverse industries, it’s a process. So as it relates to Mixergy, let’s think about it. What is the most important message about Mixergy? Do you want people to realize that this is almost like a Library of Congress of the best content available for entrepreneurs, most of it for free? Or, alternatively, as you and I have talked about, I love the idea of giving lots of stuff for free. But I also think like the Wall Street Journal, of which I’m a subscriber, I am happy to pay for certain premium content to get something above and beyond. So you and I have talked about once you figure out what that so what benefit is, I believe there are many of your viewers who would be willing to pay a premium because they understand that you’re not a non profit organization even though they appreciate the free content.
Andrew: OK. All right. And then the now what in that case would be now go and register yourself, go and get yourself a membership.
Mark Magnacca: Exactly.
Andrew: Let’s find another site. Let’s see if we can come up with another theoretical site just to really illustrate these points and see how they would apply. We’re using Justin TV to broadcast our live interview right now. Let’s assume you and I, Mark and Andrew, are going to create a new online video site; real time video, anyone can broadcast, we see that online video’s going to explode and we decide that that’s the business we’re going to join. What’s the for what, so what, now what process for that? How do we come up with that?
Mark Magnacca: Tell me just a little bit more about this TV site because I’m not familiar with this one.
Andrew: OK. Justin TV allows you to broadcast yourself out on the internet or do conversations the way you and I are having. You and I decide that we’re going to see that there’s a market for using phones to broadcast live video, live video on the internet through phones, through computers, through other devices, going to grow. We decide we’re going to jump in it and the first question we might want to ask ourselves is for what. For what reason are we telling the world that we’ve got this video site? Is it okay to say that the reason is to bring in lots of users and become the next network? The next NBC? NBC of the people? Or is that too selfish a reason?
Mark Magnacca: You’re on the right track. I think one of the things that is inherent in this and it will come out websites we talked about yesterday. If you’ll bear with me I need to just look at…Is it “Justin” as in the name Justin?
Andrew: Justin, yes. Justin dot TV. But our site will be called Mark and Andrew dot TV.
Mark Magnacca: All right. I follow where you’re going. Let me just pull theirs up and give you a first impression along with some of the other ones we’re going to do. So bear with me here for just a moment. Whoa! That’s kind of an interesting…the graphic on it is a man in a box. “Millions of people are watching 833 live channels. Very interesting. So, my first impression, Andrew about Justin TV, and this would be true whether it was Mark and Andrew TV or Justin TV is that like many of the sites that we’re going to be talking about, if you already know what this is, it does a great job of getting your attention. I call it “the grabber open”. Sort of like leading the news with something visually compelling that causes you to want to know more. But on very first impression for me, and remember that the advantage that your viewers have listening to what I have to say is because, although I’m very interested in technology because it’s not my primary focus, things that aren’t immediately intuitive to me may be a good proxy for the larger web audience versus just the sliver of people who are very web savvy. So that said, when I look at this in terms of the for what reason, I’m not actually clear what the message is. It’s got my attention and it’s intrigued me to want to know more but from what I see right now, it hasn’t done enough to communicate, I think, as well as it could what the benefit of Justin dot TV is.
Andrew: Okay. So we have to be very clear about what is the benefit of our site.
Mark Magnacca: Yes, we do.
Andrew: Okay. So that’s the for what. The so what would then be…
Mark Magnacca: So what’s in it for me. When you think about this for Justin TV is this the lowest cost Is this the easiest tool in less than two minutes. And where I was going with that, Andrew and this is a big idea I want to make sure people pay attention to, you’ve got to think about who your ideal target market is. That’s the foundation of everything. I can’t tell you how many web designers and graphic designers I’ve worked with in my own business who’ve said things like, “I really think the brand for this product should have an orange and this new funky green color. It’s very hot color this year.” And I’ve looked at them and I’ve said, “It’s a hot color with whom?” They said, “It’s won all the design awards. These shades are really hot.” I said, “Look. My target market is not graphic designers. In my world my target market is people in financial services. It’s more important that we have a message that is resonant to our target market than we have a message that just we like.” So to answer the question I need to know who Justin dot TV’s target market is and your listeners really need to be clear on who the target market of their product or service is in order to find what we call the so what benefit.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Let’s move away from Justin TV. Do you have another example that we can use to go through the for what, so what, now what questions with? I just want to make sure that we illustrate them with another example and make sure that they’re clear to the audience.
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, I tell you what. Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we go ahead and skip ahead past a couple of the slides to the website examples and let’s pick it up with 37 Signals.
Andrew: Okay, I see. You want to do it there. Let’s do it. Okay. And I’ve got 37 Signals website up on this screen.
Mark Magnacca: So I’m looking at it not on the screen but on the actual power point deck here. So let’s look at 37 Signals as a company as it relates to answering those three question. And whether or not this addresses, or passes I should say, the so what test. So as we look at 37 Signals why don’t you give anybody who’s not familiar, Andrew, a quick background on what 37 Signals is.
Andrew: They started out as a design shop. They moved on to creating web apps and they also teach people how to create web apps based on their experience. And the website that we’re looking at for the people who are listening through MP3 has two sides. On the left side it says “A Better Way to Work.” On the right side it has four images with call out boxes. Each image represents a different web app and the call out explains what the web app is. So how are they doing with the for what?
Andrew: Okay, so then how are they doing with the for what? For what?
Mark Magnacca: So let’s start. This is…it’s no surprise that these guys are masters of design. First of all, one of the things that I like immediately is that it’s very unsophisticated graphics. So if you look at Campfire or you look at Backpack or even Basecamp for that matter — and by the way, we use Basecamp — they’re simple graphics. They’re not trying to be something sophisticated here but rather the icon that relates to the actual product ties into their theme. So from my perspective on first blush, looking at this website, “A Better Way to Work. Over 3 million people use our web based apps to get things done the simple way.” Now in terms of for what, they’ve got multiple for what reasons. Okay? So if you’re managing projects and collaborate with your team and clients you can share files, meet deadlines and assign tasks in centralized feedback. Bang. There’s your for what and your so what. So if you think about it they start with the feature and then they talk about the benefit. All right? So for Highrise “track your contact leads and deals. Always be prepared.” Grabs your attention. “And now keep track of past conversations, calls and emails. Never forget to follow up.” So it’s the one-two punch; they’re grabbing your attention and they’re talking about the benefit or the so what. They do it with all four of them. Now there’s something else that they do that we can talk a little bit more about and we don’t even necessarily need to show, Andrew, a couple of those bio slides the and depending upon our time we may or may not want to do that. But go ahead and click to the next 37 Signals slide.
Andrew: Okay. There it is. And on this slide we see the two owners of the company and we see the picture of the investor, Jeff Bazos.
Mark Magnacca: So what I want everyone to pay attention to here is that 37 Signals, as well as a few of the other sites we’re going to be showing you, has really touched on something that I have found in too many cases people who have web based businesses or are internet focused in their business, have missed. And what that is they often forget to talk about their most important product. Which I believe is you. Now you might be thinking at first blush, “Well wait a minute. The product that I sell has nothing to do with me. Why does anybody need to know about who I am?” And what I want to remind you is the same question that people who are going to invest in your company almost every one of the major venture capitalists from Kleiner Perkins on down, will tell you they care about the management team more than the idea. They’ll bet on the team, before they bet on the idea. So in that way one of the things that 37 Signals has done here they haven’t listed every single person who’s an employee but they’re put a short biography about Jason and David, two of the founders of this company, and they give you a sense of who they are and what they’re all about. They’ve created a narrative here that gives you a sense very quickly what this company’s all about. And when we look at some of the examples that your viewers sent in you’re going to see why I believe having this adds to the so what versus websites where as we will look at some of them, there’s nothing about who are the people behind this.
Andrew: Okay. I know it helped me to put an “about”page on the site. That once people knew who I was and they knew who it was who was asking these questions in the interviews on Mixergy they felt a little more confident that the questions were going in the right direction. That I had their business interests in mind because I was an entrepreneur too. But that’s because I’m doing videos. What I’m wondering is — and that’s because a lot of the work here is very personal — what I’m wondering is with a web app like this, like these guys at 37 Signals create or with an iPhone app or with an online business where the product is not the person, why do customers care? Why does that help them get more customers or make their customers feel better about working with them?
Mark Magnacca: Okay, well let me answer it in this way. When you think of Apple computer…you mentioned an iPhone. I’m using a Mac Book Pro right now, lots of great products that Apple makes, right? Who is the person that comes to mind when you think of Apple?
Andrew: Obviously Steve Jobs.
Mark Magnacca: Okay. Who is the person who comes to mind for Microsoft?
Andrew: You know what, still Bill Gates even though Steve Baumer is the guy in charge.
Andrew: Bill gates even know steve bommer.
Mark : I agree with you I mean bommers you know banatic for a while know but still bill gates so that the point that I want to make here and I want to make a distinction I don’t need this information at on an Iphone app. That’s different if I am playing a game or I am looking at a compass or some cool iphone app I don’t need the information in that particular context but I do need the information in the context of a website. So I am going to ask you to hold just 1 minute because some audio just came on I need to shutoff
Andrew : Hhaa haa ok Absolutely.
Mark : Yeah it a yeah tv phased apparently just ended.
Andrew : Off course
Mark : So to close the loop with that Andrew important takeaway here we are going to show them some of the other websites Iphone app not critical the website is different the website is much more about who you are so your first reaction is often well I want to talk about the product I want to talk how big the product is. But I want to remind you that ultimately in the sales process when people do there do diligence they want to know some thing about who you are. Now I will I will tell you that there are some products where because of the unique nature of the product and the target market you are going after its not as important that you feature the founders of the company because some people watching right now are running a 1 percent operation and there thinking will wait a minute if I do that I am going to explose myself that I am a one person in operation. Here is the interesting thing 37 signals has more than 2 people who are working for them but they have only listed 2 people on the website plus jeff pays them as an advisor. So by putting some biography information on the website it don’t necessarily make you look small but rather I think it really helps for the narrowed we are going to show you couple of other examples the minimal 2 enders will go backwards and we will show them what are the key ito making a great biography
Andrew : OK Alright so do you want to take them in a deck year
Mark: Yeah Lets go to the next one the Imark one
Andrew : Ok and Imark I see a big image on the left and it says I cant read it from here Launch Quick labs
Mark : Yeah Ouch labs Ouch labs and I read a just a little bit Imark is a skilled team of designers programmers and business experts now that last peace is very significant. Imark actually did this so what website so whatbook.com and let me read a little bit of what they say. The imark team believes that the form follows functions that value is measured in efficiency and return on investment and a great content is a key to a great website. Now when I got referred to IMark there were four other very solid companies that I got referred to before I made decision to meet them now for so those of you who actually read the book so what you know that I believe a fundamental process a fundamental part of the sales process today regardless what business at your end doing some home work before you make a decision to buy something. Almost every one of the viewers does this same way they google things they google information they look for reviews on product in the air that we live in now I will call up the post made of world. Now more than ever there is a concept called do diligence which is go kick the tyres find out who is this person that I think you and I talked about every week we meet we introduced through my publishers we had some conversions and when I was in California I came and meet you face to face
Mark: Does some people say that’s a old fashion. But I am going to tell you that I think more and more the ability to position who you are is part of the credibility statement of the company. So when I meet Imark I went through the website It it compelled me for a couple of key words. I like that they are skilled team of designers programmers but here is the key business experts they spend a lot of time and you are asking me questions that the completion didn’t ask. There competition was telling which colors was involved this year these guys were saying what do you want to do with this site they were asking me the so what questions.
Andrew: I see you want us to build this site so what so what happens so what’s the bill.
Mark:Exactly what has to happened for the Depew success right .
Andrew: So what would you tell them what was your goal with the website for your book to sell more books to follow up which people who bought the book.
Andrew: Still Bill Gates, even though Steve Balmer is the guy in charge.
Mark Magnacca: I agree with you, I mean Blamer’s, you know, been at it for awhile now, but it’s still Bill Gates. So, the point that I’m trying to make here, Andrew, and I want to make a distinction: I don’t need this information on an iPhone app. That’s different. If I’m playing a game or if I’m looking at a compass, or some cool iPhone app, I don’t need the information in that particular context. But I do need the information in the context of a website. So, I’m going to ask you to hold just a minute because some audio just came out I need to shut off, be right back.
Andrew: Hahaha, okay, absolutely.
Mark Magnacca: Yeah it’s…the T.V pause apparently just ended.
Andrew: Oh, cool.
Mark Magnacca: So, to close the loop with that, Andrew, important takeaway here, that we’re going to show them some of these other web sites. iPhone app, not critical. The web site is different, the web site is much more about who you are. So, your first reaction is often, “Well, I want to talk about the product. I want to talk about how the product is.” But I want to remind you that ultimately in the sales process, when people do their, do diligence, they want to know something about who you are. Now, I will tell you that there are some products where, because of the unique nature of the product and the targeted market you’re going after, it’s not as important that you feature the founders of the company. Because there’s some people watching right now who are running a one person operation and they’re thinking, “Well, wait a minute, if I do that, I’m going to expose myself that I’m a one person operation.” Here’s the interesting thing: Thirty-seven Singles has more than two people working for them, but they’ve only listed two people on the website, plus Jeff Baysos as an advisor. So, by putting some biography information on the web site, it doesn’t necessarily make you look small but rather, I think, it really helps with a narrative. And we’re going to show you a couple other examples and then what we’ll do, Andrew, is we’ll go backwards and we’ll show them what are the keys to making a great biography.
Andrew: Okay, alright. So, do you want me to take the next one in the deck here?
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, let’s go to the next one, which is the iMark one.
Andrew: Okay. And on iMark I see a big image on the left. On the right it says…I can’t read it from here. “Launch Quick Labs?”
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, Allan’s Labs, I’ll read just a little bit of it, too, it says, “Imark is a skilled team of designers, programmers, and business experts.” Now, that last piece is very significant, iMark actually did the “So what?” website, sowhatbook.com, and let me read just a little bit of what they say. “The iMark team believes that form follows functions. That value is measured in efficiency and return on investment, and that great content is key to a great website.” Now, when I got referred to iMark, there were four other very solid companies that I got referred to before I made a decision to meet them. Now, for those of you who’ve actually read the book “So what?”, you know that I believe a fundamental process, a fundamental part of the sales process today, regardless of what business you’re in, is doing your homework before you make a decision to buy something.
Mark Magnacca: Almost every one of your viewers, Andrew, does this anyway. They google things, they google information, they look for reviews on products…In the air that we live in now, I’ll call it the post-made-off world, now more than ever, there’s a concept called “you diligence” which is go kick the tires, find out who is this person. I think you and I talked about it. We met, were introduced through my publisher, we had some conversations and then when I was in California, I came and met you face to face.
Mark Magnacca: Now, some people would say that’s “old fashioned”, but I’m here to tell you that I think more and more the ability for you to position who you are is part of the credibility statement of the company. So, when I met iMark, I went through their website. It compelled me for a couple of key words. I liked that they were a skilled team of designers, programmers, but here was the key: business experts. They spent a lot of time, Andrew, asking me questions that their competition didn’t ask. Their competition was the ones telling me which colors were in vogue this year. These guys were saying, “What do you want to do with this site?” They were asking me the “so what?” questions.
Andrew: I see. “You want us to build this site “So what?”, so what happens, so what’s the goal?”
Mark Magnacca: Exactly! “What has to happen for this to be a success?” Right?
Andrew: So what did you tell them? What was your goal with the website for your book? To sell more books, to follow up with people who bought the book?
Mark Magnacca: …his turn-offs are digital. And he’s in the web design business. You get sort of a sense of his attitude, his approach and you get to know him a little bit. Now, this is particularly true for any kind of services business, like a web design firm. But what you’re going to see with some of the examples that I’m going to show you, that even in product firms, I think having a biography, that we call a ìso whatî biography, is critical in differentiating your web site. So, if you notice…
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.
Andrew: OK. Here, let me bring up that slide. The first slide that I’ve got here is ìWhat is a personal biography?î
Mark Magnacca: Great. So, let’s go through that right now. I want to make sure everybody’s on the same sheet of music here. So, what is a personal biography? Well, as it says, it is not a business card. It is not a resume. And it’s a brief overview of who you are, what your qualifications are, and what makes you unique. And I think as you saw from Dave Tufts there, his is just one example. It’s short, to the point but it really is different just by virtue of the fact he has one. And Andrew, one of the things I want everyone to focus on is that, I want to be very clear, this isn’t about him bragging about his achievements. But rather, I’m interviewing these guys for a job. And I want to know something about them. I don’t want to know everything about them, but I want to know enough about them to make it unique. And I think that’s the real message of what we’re talking about is that if you strip yourself out of the story of the business, the business is less interesting.
Andrew: OK. Now, when we’re talking about biography, we mean the biography we put on the web site, just on the web site, or are there other places this is applicable?
Mark Magnacca: Well, it’s interesting. Let’s start with just the web site, and then I’ll tell you about some of the other places. Why don’t you click onto the next slide, which we call ìCompetence…
Mark Magnacca: Ö Character, and Common Groundî. All right, so, what are the elements of a biography? Well, there’s three of them. People want to know about your competence, I call these the ì3 C’sî, which is your industry experience, your background and your credentials. Then they want to know about what I call your character, your reputation, your ability to deliver on your word, if you will. And then finally, it’s the common ground, education, family, hobbies, fraternal organizations. And what I like to do now is just briefly, show you these two examples of one of the readers of ìSo Whatî who created a personal biography in the financial services world. And I am going to read a few of the words, and we’ll let the audience react, and then I’m going to show you what happened when he put his biography through what we call the ìSo what?î test.
Andrew: OK, all right, here’s the first version, the one that has a few sections highlighted.
Mark Magnacca: OK, so, actually, you know what, go to the next slide, I’m sorry, they’re slightly out of order there. Go to the one that has the vision, focus, commitment, vision service.
Andrew: Yep. I’ve got it here. And I also have the printout of it in my hands.
Mark Magnacca: OK. Do me a favor. Go ahead and read for me please, Andrew, what it says after the word ìfocusî.
Andrew: OK. By the way, does he know that his slide is being put up here on Mixergy or that you’re posting it online, because I see…
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, he’s a friend of mine and he knows I use it all over the country, as a matter of fact.
Andrew: OK. All right, if anyone sees this and wants to send him an e-mail and say ìhiî and ìthank youî, I’d appreciate that. His e-mail address is on the slide. OK, so, starting with ìfocusî,
Mark Magnacca: Yes.
Andrew: His focus is non-qualified executive benefits, his expertise is employer-sponsored pre-tax executive benefits, such as non-qualified excess, non-qualified defined benefit, and benefit exchange. This is so non-techie, this is so out of our internet entrepreneur…
Mark Magnacca: I was just going to say, ìdo you have any idea what he is talking about?î
Andrew: Do you want me to read one more, maybe the next two will help out? Or maybe the next one?
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, go ahead, try one more.
Andrew: OK, let’s go with commitment. His commitment is to personal, local support throughout New England, non-qualified turnkey system. He’s got bullet points underneath it. Planned design, sophisticated concept proposals, the second bullet point. And the third bullet point is implementation.
Mark Magnacca: OK, so let me tell you what generally happens after I show this to a group of financial advisers. So Noel is guy who calls on financial advisers.
Mark Magnacca: And I show this to them, and he, you know, to his credit, Andrew, he read the book. He said, ìI’ve never done this before. Let me try it.î And he said it to me. He said, ìDo you think this passes the So What? Test?î What do you think I said?
Andrew: Ah, no.
Transcription: Minutes 35 to 40
Andrew: Uh, No. This…
Mark Magnacca: I said, I said, “No.”
Mark Magnacca: You’re exactly right. And, and he said, “Okay. Well here’s the thing, Mark. I’m in the insurance business and I got nothing.” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I mean that I’m, I’m boring. I don’t have anything. What, what, what is it that I have?”
Andrew: Ah I see! He’s saying the insurance industry is boring in general. How do I spice this up? It’s not like I’m a sword swallower.
Mark Magnacca: Exactly.
Mark Magnacca: And, and he said that people sort of expect boring. He’s saying in effect, “I don’t have anything interesting about me.” And this is the thing I want your listeners and, and viewers to, to think about. That wasn’t true. But he didn’t realize what was compelling about him. And, and like the, the A&E television program Biography, their tagline is “Every life has a story”. I’m here to tell you that just like David Tuffs is, is a lot more interesting because of the narrative that he tells, let me show you what happened with Nole.
Mark Magnacca: So, we put Nole
Andrew: I’ll bring up the, the new version.
Mark Magnacca: Yeah. Bring up the next version, please. And now what I want to have you do is just take a look and see if, uh, they can’t read it so lets go ahead and have you read the first paragraph, please.
Andrew: Okay. Alright. So now it’s no longer a list of focus expertise and so on. Here’s the first paragraph. It’s Nole, right? Not, or is it Noel?
Mark Magnacca: Nole.
Andrew: Nole. Okay.
Mark Magnacca: You know, it’s Nole.
Andrew: Nole specializes in helping financial advisors with solutions for their clients that impact their bottomline and make the difference in their lives. Using a proven 7-step process to setup executive benefit programs, Nole can customize the plans he offers and have them up and running in as little as 30 days. Over the last.
Mark Magnacca: Let’s stop.
Mark Magnacca: Let’s stop right there just for a minute. What you need to know, Andrew, is that in his target market one of the reasons people don’t want to work with people like him, the unspoken objection is that, “I don’t want to work with insurance people because it takes too long to get paid.” So Nole just addressed the objection in his biography in narrative form and everybody knows what he was saying, but he didn’t necessarily say it straight out.
Andrew: I see. Is that that last sentence here that says that he can “customize the plans he offers and have them up and running is little as 30 days”?
Mark Magnacca: Yes. So that’s different. Okay? Here’s the one that I want you to read. Read the third paragraph down, please.
Andrew: Actually, if you don’t mind, I got a question about that. I get that now. I want to understand what my, what my audience’s objections might be, or what their needs are and address them in my biography. You’re now telling me don’t just list what you know, but answer what your audience has in their head. The questions that are buzzing around. How do I find out what those questions are? How do I know what my customer’s big concern is so I can put it into my biography?
Mark Magnacca: Well this is, this is the $64,000 question.
In, in the book, so what I talk about how there’s the story of Annie who was buying a Prius. And she goes into this Prius dealership and the dealer says, the salesman who’s talking to her says, “Look, one of the best things about this Prius is it’s going to help reduce your carbon footprint. You know, we all know global warming is a big issue and by buying this car, you’re doing your part.” Here was a great example, Andrew. He just presumed that because she was looking at a Prius that that was her most important value. And that was what we call the “so what benefit” — the thing that’s going to move her to action. And unfortunately, it wasn’t. It’s not that that was unimportant, but that’s not why she was buying it. So he then said, by asking her a question, “Well what is it that attracted you to the Prius in the first place?” And she said, “It was the fact that it gets over 50 miles to the gallon, and it means I only need to go to the gas station once a week versus twice a week for my commute.” So to answer your question, you got to know something about your customers. The best way to find out is to ask, and there is a specific set of questions that you can ask taht helps to bring this to light.
Andrew: Okay. But where do we find that question, the list of questions? It’s in the book?
Mark Magnacca: It is.
Mark Magnacca: It is. And, you know, I want to just give you a little more color on it. For example, who’s the target market for Apple’s new “iPet”? So, so think about this. If you already have a computer, and you already have an “iPhone,” are you going to buy an “iPet”?
Andrew: I might. I don’t know. I might because I’m a big techie, and I’m imagining that that’s a big part of the audience. But there’s been speculation that it might be made for my mother who doesn’t have the iPhone, who doesn’t want to drag a laptop to the couch.
Mark Magnacca: Are u gone buy an Ipad
Andrew: I don’t no I might because I am a big techie and imagining that is a big part of the audience but there’s been speculation that might be made for my mother who doesn’t have the iphone and doesn’t want a drag the laptop to the couch who just wants to read the news paper and knows that the paper is old and is not current enough for her
Mark Magnacca: well so here is the perfect example I think everything he said is spot and I think even the apple doesn’t really know just like they couldn’t have known that the ipad would become a university right it would take on all this other applications they could have known that all the things the iphone would become
so to some extent there is a bounce between doing research and there is a bounce between listening to what your customer say once the product is launched there have been many many examples going back to the ford exo or trying to let the customer tell you what they want and very often that doesn’t work but listening to what they say is the most important benefit Steve job said instead of saying the ipad is a 60 gigabyte hard drive that allows you to carry Mp3 files, he said its a device that let you to carry a thousand songs in your pocket that’s the soul the benefited the product
Andrew: I see, sir as a former airborne ranger who entered the military as a private and let as a captain no specializes and simplifying complex ideas in presenting them in clear and compelling style from plant design to concept proposal and implementation Knor has become well known for his personalized
Commitment to support his advisors through out England
Mark Magnacca: Ok I will read a little bit more at the bottom here the last peace personal knor his wife and five daughters make the home in Medway mass in the spare time he enjoyed fly fishing ,sky hacking and watching his daughters on the soccer field I am gone tell you that when people hear this I have show this to audience of 250 people and I showed it to smaller groups all most without exception the same people who say that I am not interested to talking to him from his first bio something in his bio connects with them may be its an airborne ranger may its fly fishing, sky hacking, watching his daughters in the soccer field he never know which piece it is ,but the point is there is a way to create negative around who you are and what we look into the couple more websites you gone see this is an area is a gap where some websites are missing
Andrew: Then start looking at some of these websites lets see
Mark Magnacca: I think visible games is the next one we have
Andrew: I got them here on the screen Ok
Mark Magnacca: Lets take a look at visible games here know in terms of visibility to deliver a so what message crisply and safely look at the way they use language to tell a story
People under estimates I think in some ways just how powerful language is I don’t mean for the google ranking element now on I mean the emotional charge of what language can do
So what I love about visible games here is one to punch the right brains and left brains so the left brain is attracted to optimize online conversions with video get a free quick wins report bang then right after the bang they are talking to the largest part of me here is the benefit and it’s free but then they have this logie called little graphic all most like a back of a napkin type thing you click it says watch visible games in 30 seconds I don’t know about you Andrew when I first went to it I clicked it . it comes up and in 30 seconds I got a sense of, Ok who is this what is this all about and it was actually jaison send to me I said we need to know more about how we can use this
Andrew: I see, Ok, I wish I could play the video here in this interview, do you remember what is about the video
Mark Magnacca: You think eat up to much pain with it, you tried to do that
Andrew: I think it might
Mark Magnacca: lets leave that but you asked to go to this boquains.com and just click on the video what you see is they are telling a story and it’s a short story and its very concise speaks to the benefits of why you want to engage with bio lead video
Andrew: Ok All right lets move on then to one of the sites from the audience this is the site called bitscatch what you think about the way he is presenting his idea
Mark Magnacca: yes give 1 second here its gone pull out
Sure why do I talking forward listening to the Mp3 to the right side of the screen shot of the product and the left side site is the logo underneath it has bitscatch symbol proporsal software made for designers then a button
Andrew: On the left side of the site is the logo, underneath it says Bid sketch a simple proposal software made for designers and then a button it says see plans and pricing, register for free.
Mark Magnacca: Ok, once again you know this is a really sharp website from my perspective and what I know about their target market from their own tagline is, it says simple proposal software made for designers, now when you look at this, its clean it has both left brain and right brain element and by that I mean it has some logical information in the form of plans and pricing but then it has this almost again back of the napkin type sketches at the bottom. So couple of things I would offer and I am only, I am big believer that unrequested help is inherently insulting but its very different if someone is asking for your opinion, I believe that all progress begins with telling the truth, So I am here to tell the truth from my perspective.
Andrew: Alright, we talked about this site before and one of the reason we picket this site because it’s beautiful, it looks professional, it looks persuasive.
Mark Magnacca: It does.
Andrew: But to do more, to be more persuasive, what to do you think?
Mark Magnacca: Ok, so couple of things here, first of all in terms of their tagline, Bidsketch simple proposal software made for designers and what I said to Andrew was to do what, or for what, going back to the matrix that we talked about in the beginning, simple proposal software made for designers blank, so an example of this you could say, save time with our simple proposal software made for designers, earn more money with our simple proposal software made for designers, just one or two words at the beginning or the end could answer the so what benefit. I am not sure what simple proposal software made for designers other than the factor its simple that’s great but I don’t know if that’s the most important thing for a designer who is already using software.
Andrew: I see, you are saying fine whenever pinpoint you are solving for your customers and explain it , this is what its there for, not just that it’s a proposal software for designers but what’s the pinpoint that its solving.
Mark Magnacca: Exactly, exactly.
Mark Magnacca: Now let’s talk about one of the thing on that website, and that is relative to the whole bio thing we just talked about, if you click on contact for Bidsketch what you know about this company, who are these people.
Andrew: I got too much going up on my screen here, I am managing a live interview to be able to click over. What do you see?
Mark Magnacca: Ok, I will tell you exactly what I see and will go ahead and pull it up here for you. Ok, so from the Bidsketch site, I click on contact and all I get is, contact Bidsketch , it’s a contact form, there is nothing more about who they are other than that they are a part of EarthLink works, but you have to really dig deep to find that at the bottom of the
Mark Magnacca: It captured my attention. But the first thing my eyes went to was the re-launch announcement in 2010. And as I look at it, my very first impression was, I don’t know exactly what they do. That’s my first impression. And as all of you know, that you have less than seven seconds to make a first impression. And it’s very hard to change that first impression, once it’s been made. And so when I look at this, the thing, because it has this name “Monogiggle”, that in and of itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything, which is completely fine, just like Google didn’t mean anything, I spent a little bit more time. And I started to understand. OK, so they’re in the business of selling party favors. And then I started to think about the fact, well, I have a party favor store, you know, less than two miles from where we are. Why do I want to go to Monogiggle, versus the store? So what I’m suggesting here, Andrew, is that it looks like a great little business. I want to know more about, immediately, what is the benefit of me using this website? Does Monogiggle offer me the best price? Is it the most convenient way to shop? Because like Amazon, I can get almost any party favor I’m looking for, and they’re always in stock. Versus, I run down to the store, and the one thing I’m looking for, they don’t have. Is it the best price? So it says on the website, I’m celebrating my bachelor party, baby shower, or christening, whatever. And I’m looking for… It does a really nice job with I’ll call the “mechanics of the website”. But I believe that with one or two well-placed words, preferably right where the re-launch announcement is, you could quickly tell me, “What is this thing all about?”
Andrew: What is this thing? And why you should care. Make it clear. Put it right where the “I” goes. That’s your suggestion for this site.
Mark Magnacca: It’s for what, so what, now what. For what reason does this website exist? All right?
Mark Magnacca: Is it to sell product? Yes, but more than that, it’s to help me understand what is the unique value proposition of Monogiggle. Right? Well, so what? I need to know, for their target market, is it time? Is it money? Right? Is it convenience? What’s the hot button? And then finally the now what, “Click here to place your first order.”
Andrew: I see. All right. Moses, you’re in the audience. I see that you’re in the chat room here. What do you think of that? What’s the “So what?” What’s the reason? What’s the, why would somebody use your site instead of going over to the local store? And if he answers it now and I don’t want to put pressure on him here with everyone looking, but if he does, I’ll let you know what he says. All right, that makes sense. Let’s take a look at the next site. Where is that? There it is. Useability test, this useabilitytest.com.
Mark Magnacca: Useabilitytest.com. Excellent. You know there’s definitely a theme here, Andrew. The folks who sent these in, these are some beautiful web sites. Some really nice design. This one, I think, does one of the best jobs of sort of hitting you right in the eyes, right between the eyes, for their target market. And I’m presuming that the target market is someone who is creating web apps, based on the fact that they’re first message is ìuseability test for your web app. Watch videos of users using your web app, and get valuable insight how to improve your UI and increase revenue.î Now, I’m, this is, remember when you read Knowles’ bio and it talked about non-qualified deferred compensation?
Mark Magnacca: I’m going to take a guess that I know what UI is. Is that User Interface?
Mark Magnacca: Or Useability Interface.
Andrew: User Interface.
Mark Magnacca: User interface. OK. So, the fact that they use the acronym UI speaks to the fact that they’re going after a target market, that they know who their target market is. I’m not opposed to using acronyms like that, but I want to just remind you that when you do, you have the ability to lose people who are outside that language circle for whom that’s not language they would necessarily know.
Andrew: OK. Does he do a good job here of telling you why you should care about his useability test? About what the benefit is to you of using his site?
Mark Magnacca: Well, you know it’s interesting that you should say that, because what I love is that he has literally written on his web site, features, remote useability testing with your real users. Understanding users behavior by analyzing survey results. He’s actually hit you with the features, and then underneath it, he’s giving you the benefit. Which is, filter user browsing sessions by satisfaction rates, task completion, or reasons they visited your site. What I would propose is probably the best one that he has…
Mark Magnacca: …One that he has. And this isn’t necessarily a feature. Super easy installation in two minutes. You’re telling me, is that a feature or is that a benefit?
Andrew: That’s a feature.
Mark Magnacca: And then after quick registration, and pasting java script code on your site, you’re up and running. So, I think for what they’re trying to accomplish, they’ve done a really nice job. I, my only suggestion would be to think about even more clearly what is the key benefit of all these things they’ve talked about and…and address the benefit that their users get rather than just the features.
Andrew: I see, so if its to help increase conversions, make that the benefit,if its to help retain people on the site, make that the benefit. Find out what the benefits are and emphasize those and I guess if there is one big benefit, emphasize that right underneath where it says usability task for your web app. Be very clear where the I goes and say this is what we do so that you can get this benefit.
Mark Magnacca: That’s spot on. And go back to the Ipod example. Imagine if I said, Well, with an Ipod, you can download pod casts from MIT and continue your education. With, there’s all these different things you can do. What Steve Jobs knew is that his target market, the people who are going to get out there and buy one and have a thousand songs in your pocket, carry your whole music library with you. The so what benefit, generally there is one or two things that are disproportionately important to your target market.
Andrew: Frankly, I don’t mean to throw stones here because my website doesn’t have that. Mix your G’s so you can find Bah Bah Bah, so you can get Bah Bah Bah. I need that what do you find very clear and what are you going to get as a benefit for that very clear. We need to redesign the website.
Mark Magnacca: By the way, I know that when you do that, you have content that I am willing to pay for and I’m sure a lot of people are willing to pay for.
Andrew: I need to make that clearer for the site overall and every time I post an interview be clear what that benefit is. I need to put that in the headline or in the first paragraph. Every time someone downloads one of my interviews they are committing forty five minutes to one hour and a half of their time. I need to make sure they know what benefit they are going to get. That’s a big one. One more question, I have an entrepreneur who runs several businesses who is not sure if he should talk about himself. He’s not ready to talk about himself.
Mark Magnacca: Well this goes back to Nole Anderson. We all have that, we all have this thing with this thing, well I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I don’t have enough whatever and what I would say is well when are you going to be ready. You’re obvious talented if you put this together. What I would offer is what I want to give. What Nole did was go through our biography generator which uses raw material from your life that you will find is good enough. When I go to usability test. Great website, great concept, but who is this? where are they? how do I reach them?
Andrew: Blurring the line between founder of usabilitytest.com and some other website.com. There are so many aspects to who we are, aren’t we showing them too narrow of an aspect. Like if this person sees this website then looks us up on twitter or facebook and might associate those actions with this business, because now we have connected ourselves to it.
Mark Magnacca: Well there are certain people, who should remain anonymous like in the Witness Protection Program and the reason they don’t put themselves up isn’t for the reason you just said but its because I want it to be about the business, I don’t want it to be about me. And what I’m suggesting to you, let me give you a quick example of this, I had a…
Mark Magnacca: I had an issue with Amazon.com. I am a big fan of Amazon, I am an Amazon prime member and I use Amazon Prime for a lot. And to make a long story short I had a problem with my Amazon prime membership and I got terminated. I get this email-
Andrew: They do that?
Mark Magnacca: I’ve been an Amazon customer for 9 years. Yes! They do that. Now what you need to know Andrew is I had sent out 50 gifts and the gifts that I sent were books. I sent 50 books as gifts to my clients for the holidays. They weren’t all the same book but books that I thought my clients would enjoy. With, literally, with the gift wrapped up with a little note. I get an email from Amazon and you know what it said? You have been terminated, your memberships been terminated without refund and you violated our policy. So, I re-read the policy and the policy says “You can’t do, you can’t send” it says this, “you cannot send products to customers.” Well, I wasn’t sending products to customers, I was sending books. I’m an author and I didn’t just send my own book I sent other people’s books to my clients. And I’ve done this for a long time. Well, anyway, the email comes back, it’s not from a person, it’s from initials, P.E.I. at Amazon.com. She writes back and says “We’ve investigated this and there’s nothing you can do.” I said, “Oh, really?” I emailed Jeff Bezos, and it was, I can’t tell you how excited I was about this. His assistant responds to me, “We’re going to look into this case.” Two weeks go by, I have another communication with them and then finally after they look through it and I explain to them , I said, “Look, I’m happy to pay for the shipping if I was in violation but what I want you guys to know, as a person whose used your website for 9 years and I buy almost everything there, is you need a button that says ‘Is this an eligible purchase?’ Because I wouldn’t have used it if I didn’t, you know, if I had known I was violating.” And they said, “You know what, we appreciate the idea, we are going to reinstate your membership, we’re going to refund the money for the time you didn’t have it, and thank you.” If I hadn’t been able to send that to Jeff Bezos I can’t tell you how frustrated I would have been. And the fact that he, through his assistant, r
esponded back to me and addressed this concern is worth so much.
Andrew: How did you find his email address?
Mark Magnacca: It’s jeff@am, it’s either jeff.bez, it’s whatever, I have his email address and I sent it. I’ll tell you exactly what it is and he responded, which was really cool.
Andrew: OK, his assistant did, right?
Mark Magnacca: His assistant did, yes.
Andrew: Alright, I’m glad that there’s a human being that actually answers those emails. I know when I get order confirmations I, sometimes I want to adjust them and I know that I can’t hit reply and talk to anybody.
Mark Magnacca: By the way, it’s Jeff@Amazon.com
Andrew: Jeff@Amazon.com, figures.
Mark Magnacca: Yup.
Andrew: Alright, lets see what Moses said earlier. Moses said earlier, about monogiggle, “there are a lot of sites that you can buy favorite party favors from and at monogiggle you can actually try and communicate to us via answers and one of us, or our members in the community will help you.” OK, so it’s a lot more personal experience then you might find at Amazon or at the local store even. And-
Mark Magnacca: So lets just take that first. That’s terrific. That’s exactly the kind of raw material. So now monogiggle isn’t just about buying the commodity of party favors. Monogiggle is about a community to help make sure your next event is a success. Right? Monogiggle is a resource of great ideas to help you celebrate in an unforgettable way.
Andrew: I see. And emphasize that, trying to bring it up here on the screen for people, alright, we’ll just let it go there. OK, I know we’re going to take some questions from the audience, but I feel that we already gone over time here. Why don’t we do this; If people want to follow up, what’s a good way for them to follow up? We were talking about, let me see if I can bring that up here-
Mark Magnacca: Let’s give them the last slide so they can download that free biography generator.
Andrew: Why am I not able to bring this last slide up here? Ah, I know why, ok. Here, we’ll do this and manually move it up. Alright, there it is. So we are going to tell people that they need to go to this website if they want to get their own, if they want, go to the biography generator. And the website-
Mark Magnacca: Yes.
Andrew: Should I give the URL for people who are just listening?
Mark Magnacca: Yes, please.
Andrew: OK, it’s SoWhat-
Mark Magnacca: Is this the one that Jameson gave you?
Mark Magnacca: …the one that Jason gave you. He gave you like a link to get right to that bio-generator.
Andrew: I think so. Jason, you’re in the audience. Let me if not. And you know what? I can include the right one, if this is the wrong one, in the post itself.
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, Jason, if you’d go ahead and post the link where they need to go, that would be great.
Andrew: OK. All right. So why don’t I leave this up on the screen for people who are watching us live. For anyone who’s watching the recorded version, I’ll have a link for you on Mixergy, so you can go directly to it and generate your own biography on Mark’s website. All right. Any other way for people to contact you?
Mark Magnacca: Yeah, absolutely. You can go to sowhatbook.com. And you can contact me from that website. And I’d like to leave you with a thought from a great Bostonian, by the name of Oliver Wendell Holmes. And Andrew, he said this. He said, “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of a new idea, can never return to its original size.” And I want to complement the free websites who put themselves out there and said, you know, “Give me some feedback on what you think’s working and what’s not working”, on a willingness to stretch their thinking, knowing that now that you know this, you can never go back to your original level of thinking. So thank you, Andrew, for the opportunity to talk with your audience.
Andrew: All right. Well, thank you. Thank you for being here. And guys, I’m always looking for your feedback. Come back to Mixergy. Tell me what you thought. Tell me what you think we can improve. And also, it looks like we do have the link to your site. It’s http://sowhatbook.com/bio_generator. And of course, as I said earlier, I’ll link to it from Mixergy. Mark, thank you for being here. I want to thank you for watching. I’ll see you in the comments.